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Recent changes in law of religions

In the Czech Republic, Act No. 308/1991 Sb. has been replaced by Act No. 3/2002 Sb. of 7 January 2002, on Freedom of Religion and the Position of Churches and Religious Societies (Act on Churches and Religious Societies). The Act is based on the same, unchanged constitutional principles, but it solves some particular problems in a different and more detailed way. The Act liberalizes the process of registration of religious communities and introduces a two-degree registration with the concept of "special rights" for the higher degree of registration, which therefore limited some religious freedoms. The Act was subject to a reference to the Czech Constitutional Court. The Court’s Opinion, published under Number 4/2003 Sb., repealed some provisions of the Act (concerning in particular the registration of charities and other ecclesiastical bodies) as unconstitutional. But it did not repeal the two-degree registration and the concept of "special rights".

Between 1999 and 2002, representatives of the Czech Republic and the Apostolic See prepared an international agreement which was signed by both parties in July 2002. But on 21 May 2003 the House of Deputies of the Parliament voted by a majority of 110 votes of the total of 200 members not to recommend its ratification. The political situation was not favourable. The concordat did not enter into force, but it was not repealed. The proposal for such a recommendation may be resubmitted at a more favourable time.

An important change was brought by Act No. 428/2012 Sb. of 8 November 2012, on Property Settlement with Churches and Religious Societies and to Amend Certain Other Laws. The act came into force on 1 January 2013. The Act combines restitution in kind of property appropriated from religious communities from 25 February 1948 until the end of 1989, and financial compensation for non-restored property. It gradually cancels the paying of stipends by the state, thereby introducing the financial independence of religious communities. The Act is implemented step by step.

Further information: TRETERA, Jiří Rajmund, HORÁK, Záboj, Religion and Law in the Czech Republic. Alphen aan den Rijn: Wolters Kluwer, 2014.

D 17 October 2016    AZáboj Horák

CNRS Unistra Dres Gsrl

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